Eight religious leaders, including a Catholic priest and a nun, were detained by police in Sydney yesterday after refusing to leave Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s electoral office in a protest against asylum seeker policy, reports news.com.au.
The protesters invited office staff to join prayers for about 1000 child refuge seekers in detention centres and demanded their release.
Those involved in the occupations included two Catholic priests, a nun, two Baptist pastors, an Anglican Priest, five Uniting Church ministers, and a number of lay church leaders.
And there could be more prayer protests and civil disobedience to come in a national campaign as groups have previously occupied the offices of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.
The 'prayer vigil' at the Prime Minister’s office was co-ordinated with a similar sit-in in the Melbourne electoral office of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Neither Mr Shorten nor Mr Abbott were present at the time. About 12 people were involved in the initial protest at each site. They were allowed to stay at Mr Shorten’s office.
A spokesman for the two groups said this 'peaceful action is a response to Australia’s cruel treatment of asylum seekers and an appeal to the two major parties to end the bipartisan tragedy of offshore detention, especially of children.'
'Churches across Australia are speaking out in one voice about the cruelty of imprisoning children in detention centres and we are here today to ensure these calls for justice for the most vulnerable in our society are not ignored,' said Sr Brigid Arthur, a Catholic nun from the Brigidine order, who was at Mr Shorten’s office.
Church leaders arrested for asylum prayer vigil at Tony Abbott's office (The Guardian Australia)